Millions of people get amazed, year by year, about this unique Mediterranean destination, just a short flight away from the southern shores of Sicily. Malta has thousands of charming faces of ancient and historic sites, cosmopolitan streets, and amazing beaches. The fact that everyone speaks English increases the popularity of the tiny island even more in recent years.
It is challenging to pick the best places to stay or see here, and even harder to decide which are worth visiting the most, but you can discover here a handful of remarkable spots and hidden gems, which will provide guidance to choose the best places for your holiday destination. Whether is it bringing your friends, your family, your significant other or traveling as a sole explorer, Malta has the potential to satisfy all kinds of specific needs to set up an unforgettable experience.
Table of Contents
A Local’s Guide on Where to Stay in Malta
Where to Stay in Malta: Valletta
Enchanting history, amazing architecture and fast urban lifestyle. The proud owner of awards such as the Capital City of Europe for Culture in 2018, and UNESCO World Heritage Site for almost 40 years. No surprise, due to it’s being packed with a number of genuine churches and chapels from different ages, quality restaurants, and picturesque panoramic views, not to mention a number of shops with top international brands. The city is like a historical relic, boosted with the modern rush. Stepping in through the gigantic city gate, the main street of Valletta allows you to actually see through the whole city. The parliament is located here, and keeping to the right, one can enjoy taking a stroll above the Grand Harbour for some great pictures, and also, to find the charming and exotic Baraka Gardens. Right from the upper garden, as a tribute for the Great Siege of Malta, you can enjoy the sight of cannon fires held every day at noon.
Staying in Valletta rarely comes with a low budget, still, is it sure to receive value for the price. Dozens of luxury hotels and apartments are offered in the city, with well preserved authentic buildings, historical palazzos, and spacious, villa-like hotels. Hotel Phoenicia Malta, Palazzo Paolina Boutique Hotel, Palais Le Brun, and Ursulino Valletta are just some of the best choices if you don’t mind to spend over 170 euros per night. On the other hand, affordable apartments and hotels are on every corner, where prices can go as low as 70 euros per person.
Valletta is the best choice if you want to experience the traditional luxury and comfort, surrounded by spectacular views. Travelers will not be able to stop looking upwards and get impressed by the centuries-old architectural masterpieces.
Buses are heading in every direction from here, from the main bus station just next to the city gate.
The ferry leaves to Sliema and other harbour cities every 30 minutes and will cost around 4-5 euros depending on the season.
Recommended hotels in Valletta:
La Falconeria – Located in the centre of Valletta, it offers elegant room with flat screen TV, free Wi-Fi, toiletries, slippers and bathrobes. An a-la-carte breakfast is served daily and there is also a restaurant on site.
Jean de Valette Boutique Living – offers centrally located apartments with Free-Wi – Fi, a kitchen with an oven and a toaster, a cable flat-screen TV, ironing facilities, a fridge and a kettle.
*I stayed here on my recent visit to Malta and loved it. (Chrissy)
Where to Stay in Malta: The 3 Cities Birgu, Senglea and Bormla
The Three Cities: Birgu, Senglea, and Bormla. Wondering at the shores of Valletta, they can be easily seen, just looking at the fortified cities laying on the other shore of the Grand Harbour. In the 16th century, the Knights of the Order of Saint John’s have found them with the purpose of providing a fortress and home to thousands of people who settled in Malta. Surprisingly, the area never became uncomfortably crowded by tourist, even though it is just a few minutes ride from the capital by the ferry.
The best way to explore this picturesque side of Malta is by walk. The impressive bastions and fortifications, the Inquisitor’s Palace, the Maritime Museum and an astonishing collection of churches can be found here, with a great number of historical sights.
The three cities are the best choice for those that want a really visually appealing atmosphere and would love to catch a glimpse of the local life. Families and romantic holiday can take place here, with memorable walks and wonderful views. Prices are lower than in the capital, however, you can find high standard hotels like Casa Birmula Hotel, or even rent a floating accommodation like the Riti Yacht, for something truly special. Fortunately, lovely hotels rooms are available in the whole area starting from 60 euros per night.
The best way to get here is by the ferry, also because it gives an opportunity to enjoy the authentical panoramic views. Still, if you take the bus, the numbers you are searching for will be route number 1, 2, 3, 4, 124 and 213.
Recommended hotels in the 3 cities:
Sally Port Senglea – beautiful rooms with a balcony, free w-fi, a flat-screen TV, a fully equipped kitchenette and air-conditioning. There is also a sun terrace overlooking the Grand Harbour.
Cugo Gran Macina Grand Harbour is located in Senglea and offers luxurious air-conditioned suites with free W-Fi, and toiletries, all with unobstructed views of the Grand Harbour and the marina. A rooftop swimming pool with breathtaking views is also available onsite.
Where to Stay in Malta: Sliema
Unquestionably the most popular destination for tourists. The city has been blooming for the last two decades, with a huge range of shops and commercial centres like Tigne Point. With fantastic panoramic views looking at Valletta, the infamous and beloved promenade lies long kilometres along Gzira, Sliema and San Julians. Infinite options are offered at the seaside with daily cruises to each corner of the country, enjoying a full day of sun by the sea. The 5 star Palace Hotel, a large variety of boutique hotels, luxury apartments, and B&B accommodations can be found rather in the higher range of the prices, due to the huge amount of tourist in the summer season.
Sliema is the best choice if you want a lively area, with modern services and sites. Restaurants and teeming bars are set in lines along the full length of the promenade. Travellers will find superb rocky beaches, some of them, like the one at the Surfside Restaurant, have artificially protected pool-like structures, where even the small ones can have a full day of fun, in safe waters. Manuel-Island, just 10 minutes walk from the bus and ferry station, is providing an amusement park in the summer season, where all ages can get some crazy rides and concentrated adrenalin. A unique attraction that’s worth mentioning is located near the park, called Dinner in the Sky, where your supper table will be lifted up 40 meters high by a crane, and needless to say that the panorama from up there is something you will never forget.
Be ready for packed buses and long rides during the summer. Dozens of rides are going through Sliema and direct routes are provided to the bigger cities of Malta.
Buses that stop is Sliema are number 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 202, 204, 202, 222, 225, 233 and X3.
Recommended hotels in Sliema:
Palazzo Violetta is just 10 minutes away from the beach. It offers modern rooms with balcony, free wi-fi, and free toiletries. The property boasts a year round swimming pool and free parking. A continental breakfast is served daily, while a full English breakfast is available on request.
The Victoria Hotel – AX Hotels is a 5-minute walk from the seaside promenade. It offers spacious rooms with free Wi – Fi, air conditioning, tea and coffee-making facilities, and a Smart TV with international channels. The hotels also has a rooftop terrace with a swimming pool, a bar and a restaurant, a wellness center with a gym, an indoor pool and a spa.
Where to Stay in Malta: San Julians
For those that are searching for endless nights, and entertainment, St. Julians will be just the perfect fit. Not only for the clubs and bars offering a number of choices for each musical taste from Latin to electronic, but also for the practical layout of these nightclubs, concentrated in one large area, commonly called Paceville.
San Julians is the best choice if your holiday’s objective is a hen or stag party, or a short but fun weekend getaway with the friends. It is designed mainly for the nightlife, it’s streets will be packed by both locals and tourist after the working hours. Get lost in the cosmopolitan city what is ready to entertain you! Enjoy the best restaurants and cocktails in the contemporary and buzzing bars and lounges lined up with the newest gastronomic trends! Saint George’s Bay has a tiny artificial beach, just 5 minutes walking from luxury hotels like Corinthia, Raddison’s Blue Saint George’s Bay and Intercontinental. It is not rare to find jaw-dropping prices in the peak season of summer months, but if you don’t mind the noise and busy nights, rooms can also be found for 40-50 euros, offered by lovely boutique hotels and apartments.
Bus routes passing by this area are 13, 14, 16, 120, 212, 222, 225, and X2. You might see sometimes, that some buses simply do not stop due to lack of space on them, and if someone will visit this area, it is likely to get slightly disappointed by the organization of the bus routes. In case you need a lift, E-Cab taxi company is offering quite cheap services with professional drivers – 00 356 2138 3838.
Recommended hotels in San Julians:
Hugo’s Boutique Hotel – Adults Only is just 140 m from St. George’s Beach in St. Julians. It offers elegant rooms with free wi-fi, satellite flat-screen TV, coffee machine, a minibar, and free toiletries. A restaurant is also available onsite.
Jules Suites is a a modern guest house 4oo m away from St. George’s Bay. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, and a kettle. A continental breakfast is served daily at the property.
Where to Stay in Malta: The Fishing Villages
While the central and northern areas are catching up with modernization just as fast as major European cities, the southern fishing villages like Marsaxlokk, Marsaskala and Birzebuggia steadily maintain their secret serenity and calm, slow-paced lifestyle. The best seafood specialities can be found here, simply because Marsaxlokk is the biggest fish supply of Malta. Lovely restaurants located all along the harbour, offering the catch of the day. Luzzus, colourfully painted, decorative and traditional fishing boats are remarkable details of any picture taken at the bay. The widely known Pretty Bay with its Miami-like atmosphere and palm trees are often the busiest beaches of the southern Maltese shores. St. Peter’s Pool is a must-see spot for everyone wishing for a unique sight and jumps from the cliffs, where the high rocky hills are surrounding one of the most spectacular natural pools of Malta.
The fishing villages are the best choice if you seek laid-back destinations and less crowded streets. Short-let rentals are exceptionally cheap here, together with hotels like the Portview Guesthouse and Pretty Bay apartments, also, the standard prices are lower than in most of the other regions of the island. Take an evening walk and get ready to see historical towers, spacious promenades with romantic lightning, also, locals enjoying the summer night by the terrace of the many cosy restaurants. You will find a few bars and sandy beaches here, but the place is rather for a holiday where you just spoil yourself and slow the steps wherever you go.
Bus routes are 80,81,82,84,85,210 and X4 and the journey from the capital will take approximately 45 minutes.
Recommended hotels in the fishing villages:
Fisherman’s Cove Guesthouse is situated in Marsaxlokk and offers rooms with air conditioning, a satellite flat-screen TV, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel also feutures a seasonal outdoor swimming pool. A continental buffet breakfast is served daily.
Water Edge Hotel is located 50 m from the sandy beach in Birzebbugia. It offers modern rooms with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a balcony and a satellite TV. A restaurant is also availbale onsite.
Where to Stay in Malta: The Saint Paul’s Bay Area
Meaning a long and beautiful bay at the North, just next to Bugibba and Qawra. The amazing progression has been encouraging to visit plenty of tourist and locals about this area, and we can say that it clearly worths a visit for every traveller that comes to Malta. Affordable accommodations and top quality hotels like San Antonio, Gillieru Harbour Hotel and Dolmen Hotel have rooms for as little as 35-40 euros in the late summer season.
The best choice for you to enjoy a family vacation on a low budget, and a great spot for hiking and scuba diving. Large sandy and rocky beaches, with a number of opportunities for water sports and diving facilities. The sea wildlife and historical shipwrecks could be the most mesmerizing experience of your holiday, and one can even learn and watch it live in the Aquarium, situated just at the end of the promenade.
The long promenade will guide you through the 3 villages, where you can take a charter or boat for an excursion to the northern areas of Malta. Get local by the square, piazza, located in the middle of the city and surrounded by restaurants and lounge bars. Take a walk by the sea and watch the sunset from the well-known bar and club, Cafe Del Mar, where the sun will set just in front of your eyes.
This area will give a collection of programs for both day and night, however, the nightlife is not the main concept of this destination. On the other hand, it is possibly the most affordable area with a wide range of things to see. The Xemxija heritage road should be your checklist for a hike around ancient sites, what once the Romans left behind. The bus lines you will need are 31, 45, 48, 186, 212, 221, 223 and 280.
Recommended hotels in Saint Paul’s Bay:
Salini Resort overlooks the Salina Bay. This 4 star property feautures 2 outdoor swimming pools, 2 tennis courts, a wellness area with an indoor pool and fitness facilities, a restaurant and a bar. The modern rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi and a balcony or a terrace.
AX Seashells Resort is a seafront hotel located in St. Paul’s Bay. It offers a swimming pool with hydromassage corner, a splash pool with slide, a wellness centre and a restaurant. A bus stop can be found opposite the hotel. The modern rooms feuture air -conditioning, free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen satellite TV.
Where to Stay in Malta: Mellieha
The city is located in the most northern part of Malta is definitely the best place for people wanting to spend all day by the beach. It is just packed with the very best sandy beaches that are situated in the country. Gnejna Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha, and Golden Bay-together with a five-star hotel of the Radisson’s chain- are just the perfect beaches for a whole day of sea, followed by a romantic sunset and a dinner with candlelight. However, on the opposite shores on Mellieha, the longest and clearest waters will be at your feet, with enchanting azure colours and shallow waters reaching for hundreds of meters. From kayaking, through jet-skiing, and water-parachuting, the types of activities are endless.
The best choice if your main goal is to get a nice tan, and enjoy the summer. For those that don’t bother to walk a few kilometres off the road, it is highly recommended to visit the Armier Bay and Selmun Palace, in case you want to explore the remote and less known gems of Mellieha.
Routes that take you there will be X1, X1A, X1B, 41,42,101, 221,222 and 250. To get to the beaches on the western side the bus numbers are 44, 223 and 225.
Recommended hotels in Mellieha:
Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands is a 5-start hotel with a large outdoor pool, a lagoon pool, a children’s pool, a private beach and a spa. The rooms have a balcony, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a flat screen TV, coffee and tea making facilities among other amenities.
Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa offers 3 one of which is a heated indoor pool, a sauna, a spa, and 3
How to Get Around Malta
Not like in most of the countries in the world, the Maltese airport, Luqa, is not located in the capital, but a few kilometres south. The airport has its own taxi-company, right in the terminal of the arrivals, also, car-rental services can come really convenient and cheap (15-25 euros per day) if you’re used to driving on the left side. Each bus lines starting with the letter “X” are going to take you to the airport, and also away from it.
There are no railways situated on the island, in fact, the only way to get anywhere is either by the road or by a handful or ferry rides. The taxi-fare from the airport will vary from 15-40 euros, depending on the distance, and since we speak about a country with 316 square kilometres, your the drive should not take longer than 1 hour, regardless of the destination.
Generally speaking, public transport covers the whole territory of Malta, but at times of summer, it slightly reflects the Mediterranean style, meaning of not always strict punctuality. This might not disturb someone from Italy, but can annoy a little someone from Switzerland or the Scandinavian countries. In case of planning to take the bus, your fare will cost 1.5 euros and each ticket can be used for two hours, limitless times. However, especially in the summer season, a so-called Tourist Card is available which will allow you to take the bus 12 times for 15 euros, and we could call that quite a bargain.
Traveling to Malta, one should keep in mind that your perception of the distances might change during the stay. Malta is the 5th smallest country in Europe, and for comparison, if we were looking at France on the map, and we held a piece of paper from the same map symbolizing Malta, we could fit Malta in the territory of France 1745 times. This is how incredibly small is it. Filled with magnificent beaches, breathtaking historical spots, thousands of years of culture, and one of the friendliest people of the world. It is truly a compact mixture of modern and traditional, quiet and buzzing, romantic and adventurous. Who would miss that?
Malta is a country of 300 days of sun per year, and often quite hot in the summer months. The winter means no snow, but loads of rain from October until April, sometimes May.
Bio: Dorottya Huszti is a curious and adventurous writer, settled in Malta for several years, exploring and introducing the hidden gems of this truly special Mediterranean destination. Dora is specialized in writing entertaining, yet, useful and informational articles, helping travelers to learn about Malta. For the world is so huge, and it awaits to be discovered.
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